Tales from the ER

When I first arrived at the emergency room, I got to go through triage. (I tried calling earlier in the day to book an appointment for when I could reasonably leave work, but they told me that they wouldn’t take appointments at the ER). In triage, I told the nurse that I had a really bad sunburn, and she looked at me quite skeptically, but filled out my paperwork. I sat there for over an hour waiting to be seen, all the while hearing the doctors and nurses discussing the patients. “Who’s in room T2?” “A girl with a sunburn.” “A sunburn? Seriously?” Thank you so much… I’m glad my pain isn’t serious enough for you. I told them about all the times I had fainted, and how I threw up, and how I had chills all day… but that didn’t seem to move me up in their eyes. They wouldn’t even give me a real room – just put me on a stretcher out in the hallway.

I felt a little better when the doctor finally saw me. She glanced at my arms (which were visible), and was about to scoff, until I told her that my arms weren’t bad and that she should look at my legs and torso. She did, gasped, and grabbed an IV. I felt slightly mollified to finally have them recognize that I wasn’t just some silly girl coming to the ER with a little redness.

When she put the IV in, I cried like a baby. I have never been good with needles, and putting it into my tender sunburned skin was awful. To make things worse, once I started crying, I couldn’t stop, and I ended up hyperventilating. I had never done that before, and it was really scary. I kept gasping out “water,” but they kept telling me just to breathe deeply. I tried my hardest, but that just wasn’t helping. Finally someone got me water, and I was able to sip that and make it better. Of course, water led to chills… but at least I could breathe. I was pretty embarrassed to be such a mess, so the combination of that and all the “she just has a sunburn?” comments made me feel like a huge baby. But you know what? I was all alone in the hospital in a strange city. Everyone else had their friends and family and whatnot around… I was pretty proud of myself for handling it all on my own.

I stayed in the hospital until 1:30 AM while they ran various tests, mostly to make sure my heart was okay. They kept pumping me full of saline… is it neurotic that I really wanted to ask how much sodium was in it so I could log it in DailyPlate? In any case, they finally released me with no special creams or lotions or cures; just instructions to buy some drugstore aloe and basic aspirin, and that those would help.

Oh, and a few things I should eat. I like to call it my PCP diet, especially since they provided it in lieu of drugs. PCP = potassium, calcium, and protein, which apparently leach out of you when you get a bad sunburn. Today I satisfied that quotient by getting banana nut frozen yogurt at lunch. I like this diet! However, I don’t think it will help me lose weight…

I put in almost a full day of work today (came in two hours late because my manager said it was okay because I had been at the hospital so late last night), and it wasn’t too uncomfortable. All my systemic symptoms (dizziness, fainting, nausea, chills) are gone – it’s just my skin now, and if I sit in my chair and don’t move around (which is all I do at work anyway – desk jobs aren’t too active) it doesn’t hurt. It’s only moving around that hurts.

However, walking is painful. The skin on my legs felt really tight, and at first I thought it was because they were dry. I had brought my aloe, and shortly after lunchI hit up the handicapped stall in the bathroom to reapply. However, my skin felt really tight. I thought my legs must just be really dry, but when I got back to the hotel and changed, I looked at my legs and noticed… they are ridiculously swollen. There is no give to them if I rub them – they’re hard as if they’re about to pop because they’re so full of fluid. Plus, I don’t really have ankles anymore. I looked up remedies online and it says aspirin + elevating your legs. I’ve got the elevation going now, but I don’t want to go out to get aspirin – I’ll wait till morning for that.

Here’ s something I’m wondering about though… can I work out? The pain isn’t too bad to walk… kind of a dull ache. So I’m thinking that walking in place or doing the stairstepper might allow me to burn a few calories without further irritating my skin. I also considered weight lifting, but my back seems more tight than my legs so it burns to move my arms around much. My thinking is that the pain in my legs is more of a good pain – right? Leave comments please – I’d like to get in a workout tomorrow early AM if possible.

I’ll leave you with a lovely picture of my stomach. The lighting and my crappy camera phone make it hard to really see how red I am (it’s more than the picture shows), but you can compare to my normal skin color just above the waistline of my pants.


One funny thing… you know how they say that being tan makes you look skinny? In that picture, I think the sunburn makes me look thinner. But I’d rather be fat than sunburned. Maybe that’s what I should have told that jerk on Saturday night.

Comments

  1. Don’t work out this week. You could easily send your system back into that shocky state of fainting and chills and fever. Plus you need to keep in the potassium and calcium and not leach out the fluid. Just wait and let your system recover. You won’t lose your fitness in one more week. Just wait, pretty please.

  2. DO NOT WORK OUT!!!

  3. OK, I’m so glad the other commenters share my thoughts… Laura, take care of yourself!!! After the day you had yesterday, you should be focusing on one thing: REST!

  4. oh you poor thing :( i have had some really bad sunburns in my life but not hospital, fainting burns. that must feel horrible!! you will most likely blister and lots of peeling – poor thing :( the shower also is horrible, the colder the better it feels.

    i hope you feel better!! and i agree with the above, take care of yourself and get some rest… no need to stress your body out anymore by working out.

  5. Holy Tan Lines Batman, keep the allow on thick and often and don’t even think about what’s gonna happen when you start to peel.

    Time to chill and enjoy the downtime.

  6. Hey Laura, I’m sorry you had such a bad experience with the doctors. Sometimes in the whole scheme of things that go on there (gunshot wounds, heart attacks, and the like) we (and I’m including myself in this because although I don’t work in the ER, and don’t even see adults, I tend to do the same thing with kids and skin complaints) don’t place as much of an emphasis on empathy as we should (working on that, I promise!)

    Anyway, I agree with all the others. You should probably lay off the runs for a few days and allow your skin to heal a bit. They are all damaged right now and needs some rest (just think of it as if you were burning up with a 104 fever, would you be out running? [Oh, forgot I’m talking to a runner, but the answer is NO, NEVER if you’re wondering])

    Oh and BTW, the concentration of sodium in the IV you got was probably 154 milliequivalents per liter, at least initially. They might have switched to something else once you got stabilized. Hope this is not TMI (too much info) and will be of some use to you.

    Heal well. RICE it, girl!

  7. Oh man! Looking at that pic…I’m ABOUT as burnt as that on my chest. My arms, legs, face are fine. Its really just my chest…and a tiny pink on my stomach. I’m sure you could do some light walking…..or maybe just get nekked in your hotel room and do some jogging in place. This way your clothes aren’t running your sunburn! LOL! Are you going to make the big announcement about Disney?

  8. Oh Laura! You poor thing. Really, you probably should rest your body for a few days and heal up. I’m no doctor/nurse though. I hate it that you got that kind of response from the ER. You are VERY red. I had a sunburn one time (while on active duty in the Navy) that was probably as bad and it’s no fun, so I feel for ya. I almost got reprimanded for harming my body, cause the military owned me. Yeah….

    You look so skinny girl!

    Get better soon!

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